Scientology Crime Syndicate


This is an expanded version of the earlier Agence France Presse story:
[... text culled by FRice ...]

Copyright 1999 Agence France Presse

Agence France Presse
October 01, 1999 20:05 GMT

HEADLINE: Controversial Church of Scientology was again under pressure in western Europe Friday after police seized documentsmg in simultaneous raids in Belgium and France, the Brussels prosecutor said Friday.

BODY: Jos Colpin, spokesman for the prosecutor's office, told AFP Belgian police with warrants swooped on 25 locations Thursday, searching premises, seizing book-keeping documents and temporarily detaining people for questioning.

He said two such searches were also carried out in Paris at the request of Belgian authorities, but added that no charges were yet pending against the church in either country and that all those questioned had been released.


A parliamentary committee report on cults in Belgium, released in April 1997, named Weightman as the head of Scientology's office of special affairs (OSA), considered by critics as its intelligence service.

"The files on Scientology members are not simply membership contracts," said Colpin. "They contain highly personal information. So the investigation could be expanded to include violation of privacy laws."

The seizures resulted from a fraud and abuse complaint filed in Brussels in 1997 by a former member of the church seeking recovery of money she had paid.

They followed hard on the heels of a high-profile trial in Marseille, southern France, in which seven scientologists were charged with fraud.

The prosecutor in that trial, which concluded on September 23, argued that "beneath the religion there is a clear, institutionalised business drift" in which church officials practised "mental manipulation" to extort money from people with problems.

A verdict is to be handed down November 15 on the seven, who face up to five years in jail and stiff fines if convicted for alleged swindles between 1987 and 1990 on behalf of the church, which is officially listed as a cult in France.

Among the Belgian premises searched Thursday, in Brussels, Malines, Leuven, and Heidonck, were the current and former headquarters of the church, and a variety of groups and businesses, including the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, U-Man Belgium, Valgo International Consult, PR Consult, Impact Consulting, Delta, and Advance Consulting.

"These commercial concerns are offering so-called management training to established companies in order to gain their sympathy," said the prosecutor's spokesman.


The prosecutors told the committee the church charged 8,000 to 80,000 Belgian francs (200-2,000 euros, 8,368-20,920 dollars) for its courses.


The Marseille trial was highlighted by accusations the Church of Scientology had a "mole" in the French presidency and tried to infiltrate defence and police departments.

It was also enlived by the suspicious destruction of mountainsdtKId state's evidence just before the trial began.

American actor John Travolta, a member of the church who happened to be in Paris at the time for a Scientology wedding, beat a hasty retreat home when he realized the trial was in progress for fear, his entourage said, that he might be called as a witness.

Diane Richardson


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